The Three Pillars of MBA Admission

The Three Pillars of MBA Admission 

Often, MBA applicants find themselves confused about what parts of the MBA admissions process is the most important. Rather than focus on the individual elements of an MBA application – the essays, the GMAT, the interview, etc., I recommend that MBA applicants reframe their view of the MBA admissions process with what I call the “Three Pillars of MBA Admission.” 

Pillar One: Your Academic Competence 

MBA programs are academically rigorous, particularly in quantitative subjects. Your application will need to demonstrate that you can be a successful student in the program. Your GMAT scores and your undergraduate transcripts typically tell this part of your story. If quantitative subjects are a challenge for you (and they are for many applicants), be proactive and take coursework in Accounting, Finance and Statistics to demonstrate your abilities. 

Pillar Two: Your Contribution To The Program 

If you’ve ever visited an MBA classroom, you know that it is a truly dynamic environment, where the students learn not only from the faculty, but also from the experiences of the other students. What is it about your background that will add value to this highly participative classroom environment? This is communicated through your resume, your essays and your MBA admissions interview.

Pillar Three: Your Post-MBA Employment Potential

All MBA program administrators have a love/hate relationship with the rankings. What they measure doesn’t always tell the full story of the value of an MBA program. Despite this, rankings bring recognition and contribute significantly to program reputation. Two metrics play heavily in rankings across the board – employment at graduation and employment at 3 months after graduation. 

Keeping this in mind, the Admissions Committee must ask this important question of every application, “Is this applicant employable after they complete our MBA program?” You’ll communicate this through your resume, your essays and most importantly, through your interview. Your MBA admissions interview is not just about getting admitted to the MBA program. The admissions official is also assessing how you will represent the program in the future. 

As you embark on the MBA admissions process, be strategic. Identify your strengths in each of these cores areas, and plan how to best communicate this to the Admissions Committee. By focusing on the “Three Pillars,” you’ll focus your efforts on the candidate profile that are most important to the Admissions Committee.

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